Influencer Marketing: Hype and Uniformity over Substance?

Influencers: “Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position or relationship.” –

Influencer Marketing: “a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire/hire/pay influencers to get the word out for you.” –

Original image by: Eliot Elisofon (1972)

Influencer Marketing has turned the traditional PR industry on it’s head and thus grown into a rather lucrative industry in itself- especially when related to the fashion industry. Major brands are paying out enormous sums of money to influencers with popularity across all platforms, from Youtube and Vine to Instagram and WordPress, in hopes that they can help them bridge the gap between their brands and consumers.

This means that regular people are garnering attention, signing deals and collecting cheques previously reserved for celebrities and socialites. This is what keeps fuelling it. It’s a true manifestation of the zeitgeist.

It is impossible to deny how the influencer marketing wave has taken over in recent years thanks to social media and the gradual chipping away of elitism and exclusivity it has instigated. And even as there is a shift in the kind of influencers getting attention [i.e from photo-centred blogs to vlogs], the concept of an “Influencer” is here to stay.

The problem is how this concept is executed, especially locally. There are multiple issues with the local influencer pool that need to be addressed if those involved, particularly in fashion, want to better benefit from this wave.

Who we allow to become influencers

Influencers are nothing without their audience (followers). The greater their audience -then one can assume- the greater their influence. The greater their assumed degree of influence, the more opportunities they are afforded to be put on further reaching platforms.

Since this audience is made up of real people with real accounts who actively choose to follow and interact with said influencers, as the social media active population we need to take responsibility for creating the monsters.

More often than not, we don’t give attention to those with something palpable to offer. We give attention to people who are trying to be a pseudo type of famous. We mostly hype up people who can only offer good looks and well put together ensembles.

From here on out we should make it a point to give attention to people who display passion, drive, vision, etc in whatever field they are in or aspire to be in. This will create an Influencer pool with more substance.

Influencers Themselves

Regardless of how and where they gained followers, the problem is once they become influencers they seem to lose their individuality. Eventually they all merge into one. Doing the same 3 poses in front of the same background in photos taken at the same locations then edited using the same vsco filters.

It all becomes monotonous largely due to the fact that instead of utilizing their platform to do their part in building and diversifying the industry by putting on as many other young creatives as possible, they don’t. The result is them continuing to offer up generic content because Heaven forbid a fraction of attention is on someone outside of their exclusive little cliques for a second.

All influencers should do more to positively contribute to the industry by collaborating with as many other young creatives with more to offer as possible at every turn. Listen, we can all eat.

How Brands Use Influencers

Even though it’s mostly international brands utilizing influencer marketing because they have bigger budgets, they too have plenty room to improve.

First issue is that these brands use the same faces to death. Instead of giving opportunities to contribute and a platform to be heard to more young people who vehemently express their passion for the industry and practically beg for a chance to prove themselves, they prance the same 6 faces around like Pomeranians in a dog show.

Secondly, we are in a time when consumers react stronger to authenticity and can clearly tell when someone’s in something just for the cheque. By brands blindly tapping any and everyone with over 10 000 instagram followers to post the same thing is not only shooting themselves in the foot but further adds to the monotony that leads to consumers getting bored and moving on to the next influencer even quicker. A main reason why an influencer’s career doesn’t last long.

Brands are creating a huge problem. Moving forward, they need to become more mindful of who they work with for their marketing campaigns in order to correct this.

These are simple, glaringly obvious and doable ways in which the influencer marketing scene needs to improve. It isn’t complicated in the least. Just don’t hype up someone based solely on superficial reasons, don’t keep giving opportunities to people who attribute nothing to the grand scheme of the industry and if you’re so fortunate enough to be the one receiving opportunities do your part in breaking down the barrier and cracking windows for other young creatives fighting to get in the industry. Simply put, those involved need to influence better.


Article: Tshego "Red" Mosiane

Original Image by: Eliot Elisofon

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